The trial for a man charged with viciously abusing and murdering a four-year-old girl continued in North Carolina this week.
Jonathan Richardson, 25, has been accused of murdering young Teghan Skiba in 2010. Richardson was dating Skiba’s mother, Helen Reyes, at the time of the murder.
In July 2010, Skiba was checked into a hospital by Richardson. Richardson, who was watching the girl while her mother was away at Army Reserves training, said she hit her head after falling out of bed. But after examining Skiba, doctors knew there was more to the story.
The toddler’s body was covered in cuts and bruises. She had bruising on her neck consistent with the markings of a power cord. Whip marks were all over her skin. Her flesh was torn in several places from bite marks. A dentist testified in court that the marks matched Richardson’s teeth.
DNA forensic experts who investigated Richardson’s home found Skiba’s blood on a wooden rod. Over 30 household items had her blood on them, including underwear, pants, a pillow case, and a sleeping bag.
When Skiba was checked into the hospital, doctors were in shock at how damaged her brain was.
“When she came to us, the brain had been damaged so severely … and [the] swelling was so much the brain matter was starting to come out,” a doctor testified in court.
Police Deputy Matt DeSilva cried on the stand last week as he recalled Skiba’s condition. DeSilva called the abuse “the most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being – especially a child.”
Though her acts pale in comparison to the monstrous ones allegedly committed by Richardson, Reyes is facing a charge in the trial as well. She is charged with felony negligent child abuse causing serious bodily harm. Prosecutors hit her with charge after they discovered she knew Richardson whipped her daughter earlier in the week.
“He had told me that he had whipped her for throwing up on his chair," she said.
Prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty for Richardson. Reyes said she has rejected all plea deals from Richardson’s legal crew.
“I am here for Teghan, for my daughter ... to get justice for her, because that man murdered my baby,” Reyes said through tears.